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It's a good idea to book in advance in or near the larger German cities; many have convention centers, and if there's a trade show in town the same night you arrive, you may not be able to get lodging anywhere near the city. Also note that prices may double during major trade fairs.
If you're traveling off the main highways in a rental car, plan to spend one night in a gasthaus (tavern with rooms); standards of rooms and cleanliness are usually very high, and most also offer food service.
To get a better idea of what it's like to live in Germany, try renting one of the many available ferienwohnung (vacation apartments) for a few days. This is especially recommended for price-conscious individuals visiting Berlin.
Germany has a very high standard of youth hostels. They are great value for money, particularly for families, and a great way to get to meet ordinary German people. Use hostels that are part of the German Youth Hostel Association. http://www.jugendherberge.de.< Show Less